Contrary to popular belief (or what parents collectively believe), video games offer a range of practical benefits. It has gained a bad reputation for being addictive and creating a diversion. Video gaming is not just for fun or for passing the time – research found out that there’s a range of scientific benefits to playing video games: from improving hand-eye coordination to making you smarter to relieving pain. Here are the benefits of video gaming:
Video games help enhance memory.
Playing video games requires both visual and auditory memory. The player is required to read or listen to instructions, which may only be provided at the beginning of the game, and they need to remember it throughout the entire game. Mastery of the keys to press on the keyboard helps you easily manipulate your characters in the game. This helps improve memory. One study revealed that video gamers who play complex 3D video games perform a better follow up on memory tasks, compared to others who do not play games.
It can help you be smarter.
Many modern learning institutions use video games as a teaching methodology. It helps make education more fun, as the children improve their academic skills by providing video games aimed at enhancing cognitive and creative skills.
But it doesn’t stop at that. One study went as far as saying that your cognition may be improved when you start up your PlayStation or Xbox. Researchers took five groups of non-gamers and made them play a game for an hour a day over four weeks. They found that all video games – both action and non-action games – help improve cognitive function in the participants, as measured by tests like short-term memory tasks.
It can improve coordination.
When one plays a video game, he or she isn’t just staring at the computer or TV screen. The activities and actions on the screen provide mental stimulations wherein the player will need to coordinate their visual, physical and audial movement.
It can help improve decision-making skills.
Video games can help you absorb information more quickly and improve your problem-solving abilities. Since there are rules of play, a player has to think carefully before making any move or decision to ensure the best result. Often, players need to make split-second decisions to advance in the game. Because new information is constantly being displayed, players are forced to adapt quickly. One study found that players who were immersed in a fast-paced game are faster in reacting to questions about an image they have seen as compared to non-players.
It can help slow down aging.
Brain games that involve problem-solving, puzzles, vocabulary, numbers, and memory have been shown to have a positive effect on older players. A study found that 10 hours of play lead to increased cognitive functioning in participants aged 50 and above, and the improvement lasted for several years.
It can be good for pain relief.
This is a great excuse for playing video games on your next sick day. A study found evidence that playing video games, especially virtual reality games, is effective in reducing pain or anxiety caused by chronic illnesses or medical procedures. It is because the focus of the patient is shifted to the game, not the pain or the medical procedure. This means that playing video games is an excellent post-injury prescription.
It can help people overcome dyslexia.
Dyslexia causes difficulties in reading in children. Some research points to video games, offering an improvement to people with dyslexia in these key areas. A study investigated the effect of playing action games on dyslexic children and found out that the results were equal or even better than traditional reading treatments. The researchers think that the constantly changing environments in the game helped the kids increase their attention spans.
It can help improve balance in patients with multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis is a disabling disease of the brain and the spinal cord, and patients often have problems with their balance. One study found out that patients who played video games requiring physical interaction while standing on a balanced board experienced improvements in balance afterward.
It helps curb cravings.
People who are preoccupied with overeating, drinking, or smoking might be best served with a video game instead. A study revealed that there’s a 24% reduction in desire for their vice of choice after playing a puzzle game.
It can help you make new social connections.
While nothing beats face-to-face interactions, video gaming can actually help you make new friends. Gamers are sometimes stigmatized as being too shielded from other people, but the opposite is true. Multi-player games have created a new form of socializing in which players work together to solve problems or reach milestones. The constant communication within players can result in meaningful friendships and casual bonds. Also, games have shown to be the catalyst for friends to gather in person. About 70 percent of players find it more fun to play with friends at least some of the time.